One would think that Denny Hamlin could now relax a bit and take his foot off the accelerator for the final two races of the opening round in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. I mean, he won the first playoff race last weekend at the Darlington Raceway for the prestigious Southern 500 and as a result, knows that he’s solidified one of the 12 spots into the second round.
While that sounds good and well, that’s not in Hamlin’s DNA. See, he’s not going to rest on his laurels despite earning his first win of the season last Sunday night. He knows that it’s time to stay in playoff mode and what better way to do so by going out and winning again on Saturday night at the Richmond (VA) Raceway.
“We want to win these next two races, too,” Hamlin said via a media release. “We’re not going to take these next two weeks off. We want to keep this momentum going. That way, when we get to the treacherous second round, we’re ready and we’re in Playoff form.”
Hamlin, has actually been in playoff mode for the last several months now anyways. He’s treated every race like a playoff race in his pursuit to hold off Kyle Larson for the regular season championship. See, it was points racing as well as going for the win in that span which he unfortunately lost out on. That’s why he’s had this drive and playoff aspect surrounding him. So why lose it now?
Now, he can keep this momentum going though and get even more playoff points in the process. By doing so, that just adds to his Round of 12 cushion which features Las Vegas, Talladega and the Charlotte ROVAL.
It can keep going at his home track in Richmond during Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN).
Hamlin, has won three times in 29 Richmond starts including 14 top five finishes and 18 top 10’s. He’s led 1,911 laps in his career on the .75-mile oval including 207 of them in the spring race, an event that if a late race caution doesn’t fly, he would have won.
That was one of many races earlier in the year that bad luck struck Hamlin in his pursuit of more wins. That’s why we never fully wrote him off despite riding a winless streak that almost dated one full year. He was close to several victories and now has that one to tip him back over the hump again. Hamlin has been around this enough that he knows that one win can spark several more.